Danny Cohen says goodbye to BBC1 with 4 new drama commissions

The outgoing channel head announces Our Zoo, Poldark, Dickensian and From There to Here as he starts his new role as the BBC’s director of television

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Dramas about Chester Zoo, the Arndale Centre bombing and a group of Dickens characters, along with an adaptation of 18th century tale Poldark, will be the final legacy of departing BBC1 controller Danny Cohen.

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Cohen, who left the post this week to become the BBC’s director of television, said “It has been a joy and privilege to commission programmes for BBC1. I hope audiences enjoy the range and creative ambitions of these new dramas for the Channel.”

Our Zoo is a six-part period drama telling the story of the man who created Chester Zoo during the 1930s and the impact the project had on his family.  

From There to Here is a three-part family saga from Peter Bowker, creator of musical comedy drama Blackpool. Described as “a funny, characterful and moving drama” it is set against the backdrop of Euro 1996 and the aftermath of the IRA’s bombing of the Arndale shopping centre and follows a Manchester man torn between two worlds. 

Dickensian is written by Tony Jordan, the man behind con men drama Hustle and co-creator of Life on Mars, and will see characters from a variety of Charles Dickens novels cross paths in “the most surprising of ways”.

Poldark is an adaptation of Winston Graham’s romantic saga set in late 18th century Cornwall, about a man who returns home from war expecting a joyful reunion with his family only to find his father has died, his fiancée is now engaged to his cousin and his home is overrun by livestock and drunken servants. A previous dramatisation of the novel was a huge Sunday night hit for the BBC back in 1975, while a mid-90’s attempt by ITV fared less well.

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Cohen has named Charlotte Moore, the BBC’s former commissioning editor for documentaries, as his interim replacement as BBC1 controller.